Did Noah’s Flood cover the whole earth?
Not too long ago, a scientist who claims to believe the Bible and calls himself a creationist, came to the Institute for Creation Research to confront us with our error of teaching a recent creation He held to a five-billion-year-old earth, a view which is fraught with logical fallacies—not the least of which is the insistence that the Flood of Noah was merely a local flood.
Here is the issue: All advocates of the view that the earth is old insist that ‘proof’ of such age lies in the rocks and fossils of the earth’s crust. They claim these rocks record long ages of evolutionary development, and were laid down by either slow and gradual processes, or by occasional rapid processes of local extent. The fact that many of these rock layers are of continental extent forces them to postulate migrating shore-lines, widely meandering rivers, unthinkably large deltas, etc. Furthermore, the rock units in most cases were laid down by catastrophic events, but these events, they say, were rare, occurring every million years or so.
But if the Flood actually happened the way the Bible seems to describe—that is a year-long, mountain-covering, world-restructuring event—it would have laid down layers of mud full of dead things (now rocks and fossils) covering immense areas, having been deposited under catastrophic conditions. A proper interpretation of the rocks arid fossils speaks of a global, dynamic, watery catastrophe: the biblical Deluge.
Only denial of biblical teaching could lead one to misinterpret the rocks and fossils to support long ages. If the Flood happened the way the Bible says, then it laid down the rocks arid fossils, and there is no remaining evidence for an old earth, or evolution for that matter.
Let me urge you to read carefully Genesis 6-9—chapters dealing with the Flood. If God was really trying to describe a local flood, He surely could have written a little more clearly, for over and over again the wording demands a global flood. In fact, I have counted more than 100 times when the wording implies a global flood. It is true that some of the individual words could be understood in a local sense, but in the context, no other position than that of a global flood is defensible. Consider these few quotes of the many: ‘the face of the earth (i.e. planet)’ (6:1); ‘end of all flesh… the earth is filled with violence … I will destroy them with the earth’ (6:13); ‘destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die’ (6:17). If God had intended to describe a global world-destroying flood, He couldn’t have said it any more clearly.
Furthermore, God promised never to send another flood like Noah’s Flood (9:11,15), but there have been many local floods, even regional floods, since Noah’s time. If Noah’s Flood was only local, then God lied to us. Likewise, there was no need for Noah to build an ark for his survival. He had up to 120 years’ warning (6:3), long enough to walk anywhere on the earth, certainly out of the region of the coming local flood.
Perhaps more convincing is the fact that Jesus Christ based His teaching of coming judgment on all mankind on the fact that Noah’s Flood judged all mankind (Matthew 24:36-39; Luke 17:26-27). A local flood implies a partial judgment. Likewise, Peter based his prophecy that the existing planet will ‘melt with fervent heat’ (II Peter 3:10) and an entire new heavens and new earth will be re-created (3:13) on the historical fact of the global Flood of Noah’s day (3:6). All things considered, few doctrines are taught as clearly in Scripture as that of the global Flood.
The local flood concept is both theologically and scientifically unsound. As near as I can tell, the only reason to hold to this concept is to gain the acceptance of secular scientists who deny God’s Word. Once an individual starts down the compromise road, one error begets another, until all portions of Scripture which disagree with the secular viewpoint of the day are thrown out.
But the Christian need not distort the clear teachings of the Word of God. My testimony as a geologist is this: I know of no fact of geology or history that cannot be interpreted by the biblical world view in a way at least as satisfying as (usually better than) the evolutionary, slow-and-gradual world view.
(From Acts and Facts, March 1989. Used with Permission)